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Smells like victory
N.L. Belardes

The Magical Pig of Akron

July 5th, 2009
by N.L. Belardes


I pulled up to the gas station in an old clunker, a 1978 Bonneville that was by far the worst car I ever had to drive or ride in. My girlfriend had that same stupid, sweet smile she had on her face as when we’d stolen some gas a few days before. We were in Akron, Ohio. A few days earlier, we had poured about sixteen bucks worth in the tank and took off without paying. It was easy as that.

We were living on the edge, but that was the state of things back in 1996. We were traveling in a terrible car, wishing we had more money, wishing we had a real vacation. We were living on the edge like some kind of drugless Hunter S. Thompson fiasco. My girlfriend had just gotten a job as a waitress at a restaurant where she stole bread each night for us to devour. It was that and the eggplant from a forest ranger who had a big garden in his yard. He made his own mulch, grew his own delicacies. Nick—that was the ranger’s name. He’d bought his car cheap after some people drove it into a lake and drowned in it. “The car smelled for a while,” he told us.

I stole a few boxes of canning jars from the house where I was staying. That way Nick would keep handing over vegetables.


At the gas station we hopped out for a fill-up. That’s when we saw a pig come running out of nowhere and dive under the car across from us. The person pumping the gas got a dumbfounded look on his face. I’m sure I did too. Then some people came running. “You see a pig?” someone said. I gestured to the car. Seemed like ten people peeked underneath at once.

My girlfriend’s stupid smile turned into a roar of laughter.

She liked attention. And a circus.

The pig acted like it sensed some kind of insanity in the air and bolted for our car. Either that or my girlfriend’s chaotic laughter had attracted the beast in her lovable direction. It dove underneath. I peeked beneath the door.

I could see the pig had a terrible panic in its eyes, like it had just seen the secret of the universe because God had left his Book of Infinity open on a desk somewhere. Then, when an arm reached under the Bonneville, this magical pig of Akron bolted again. It zigzagged in an evasive maneuver and was back under the other car in a cloud of dust.

People tried to pull the pig out, but the little fatso had wiggled itself firmly beneath the gas tank.

Then someone came with a rope and tied a slipknot. The pig squeaked. The rope was hooked around one of the pig’s feet. And then it screamed. Mix Luke Skywalker wailing after getting his hand lopped off with Joe Pesci screechin’ for his life—then you’ll have some idea as to the wail of this pig as it was slowly dragged from under the car.

Once out from under the car the pig didn’t squirm. It let out a shiver, then continued to squeal as the man cradled it in his arms.

Nothing was said. I remember that in all the chaos. Nobody asked where the pig was from. Nobody asked where the pig was going. No one asked who owned the pig or what its piggy name was.

All around were bushy-headed trees and red-bricked buildings. This was summer in Akron. A time of petty thefts and pigs running amok.

For a brief moment I smiled at the goofy grin splattered on my girl’s tan face. We watched gleefully as the man cradled the crying pig. We stood like idiots under the crackle of distant storms. We were idiot lovers lost somewhere past middle America where dirt roads and city asphalt collided in God’s kaleidoscope.

And then, in an instant, karma took a sudden turn. As we stood there watching, the man darted away with the bawling pig in his arms and walked right through the doors of an Italian restaurant.


NICK BELARDES wrote Random Obsessions: Trivia You Need To Know due in stores on August 1. Want to know about strange ailments like Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, mysterious places like Cannibal Island, or Star Wars oddities? Click here to find out.

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Comment by Connie
2009-07-05 13:41:16

Funny story, I felt almost as if I were there, a standerby, possibly trying to get gas in my car without spilling it on my paintjob. I do wonder if the scream of the pig sounds like the scream of a rabbit?

Great job,

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 13:48:04

Rabbits are way worse. I was haunted by rabbit screams once. My dad cooked some for dinner when I was a kid… :(

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-05 13:53:01

Rabbit tastes like chicken.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:09:35

No, don’t say that. Yuck! When I worked for an animation company in Las Vegas, each Easter my boss would hold a rabbit roast. I would never eat any. She gave out awards for best Easter egg designs and coolest-looking food dish. I remember making this fake cartoon rabbit’s head that had x’s for eyes that when you broke through, there was a fruity pink dish that was supposed to be rabbit brains… hahahaha….

Go figure my boss would eventually take over a haunted school in Nebraska and turn it into an artist commune…

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-06 06:25:36

Rabbit is delicious! It was the signature dish at this swanky restaurant in Brussels when I was there, so of course I had to try it. You should always try something at least once.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 06:32:53

I know, I know, I should, and this sounds retarded… but I had a bad experience with rabbits once. So I will never eat it unless I’m Jeremiah Johnson stuck on a wilderness road.

Comment by hayjulz
2009-07-06 08:06:48

Rabbit is tasty…but I have heard a rabbit scream and that has haunted me for years (my dad hit one in the head with a hammer to kill it because it was injured). Once you hear it you probably would never touch another rabbit in anything other than kindness.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 08:30:50

I agree. I heard that once in my life. Never again. Who would think rabbits could scream?

Comment by Erika Rae
2009-07-06 10:12:54

Rabbits also bark. Weird but true. My dogs chase them in the forest sometimes, and when they get too close, the rabbits actually let out this horrific bark. What’s funny is that my dogs have learned to mimic this particular bark and now bark at them “in Rabbit” whenever they see one - like the rabbits might think the dogs are one of them or something just because they speak their language. They do this with coyotes, too, and attempt to speak with the coyotes via a series of howls and yips from the front deck. My dogs would make good spies with their multilingual capabilities.

But now a thought has occurred to me: maybe it is the rabbits who have learned to speak dog - and not the other way around. This would mean my dogs have only learned to speak in a rabbit accent, and not an actual language.

As a linguist, I believe this merits further study.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 10:26:38

Especially since I once had a kooky professor who spent all his time recording coyotes in the wild because he said, “They sing.” No lie. It’s a conspiracy of some kind because I’m almost certain all of the U.S. ICBMs are wired to coyote howls in some kind of canine folk song frequency. It gets deeper.

Hey, can your new baby speak rabbit-dog barky things??

Comment by Erika Rae
2009-07-06 10:31:15

Nope, just French. And a little Ewok.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 10:44:34

You know what’s strange is that chingpea can understand some Ewok. She’s crazy though and claims they sometimes speak a Filipino language called Tagalog. But I don’t believe THAT for a second. She’s hiding something. It is rather funny when the Empire is storming Endor how she can mysteriously understand them… Your kid is tapping into something special.

Comment by Erika Rae
2009-07-06 13:36:58

That is awesome. I had no idea that the Ewoks originated in the Philippines.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 13:42:57

Yeah. Gosh, Erika, I thought you were lingotistical!! Now I’m all sad.

Comment by Erika Rae
2009-07-06 14:06:25

And the origin of “lingotistical?”

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 14:17:22

Don’t toy with me, Erika. You know it’s in all the imaginary handbooks that line the shelves of Hogwart’s “professors only” Reference section.

Comment by rileymagnus
2009-07-06 14:38:52

Oh yum. Entertaining and magically future delicious! Rolled pork shoulder … prosuitto … suprasata … hot, mild and sweet Italian sausage! But, that poor sweet little pig! Great story, sharp details. Great piece.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 14:45:54

Oh wow RileyMagnus, I think I just realized that Italian sausage isn’t made out of gummy bears and paprika after all. This is disheartening. Seriously, thank you for reading about the pig’s near escape and for your comment. Mmmm. I’m hungry.

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-06 20:16:00

Italian sausage…. yum!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 10:56:03

You have to love the stuff… er, unless the pig grew up your best pal.

Comment by Rebecca
2009-07-05 13:41:40

That reminds me of a few summers ago. My sister was playing in the pool with her kids. A dragonfly fell into the pool the 2 year old, the 4 year old and the 11 year old went into a lifesaving panic. “SAVE the dragonfly!” They all screamed.

My sister fished it out and put it on the side to dry. It sat there stunned for a while. Dried itself off and warmed up. Then to the delight of the children fluttered its wings. Lift off occured and the little dragonfly was free to live again.

As it was reveling in its freedom, a bird flew into view. The bird swooped and in one gulp the dragonfly was gone. My sister looked at her flabergasted children on the verge of tears and said these comforting words, “Well, when it is your time to go, IT IS your time to go.”

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 13:50:35

Hahahahahaha…. oh wow. That poor dragonfly. I can picture it just grooming itself by the pool, happy as any bug can be. Pools are like oceans to kids. What’s the strangest thing you’ve found in the pool?

Comment by Rebecca
2009-07-05 14:16:48

I would have to say duck poop. Every once in a while a pair of ducks from our lake will decide the pool is a better place to live. There is no way to describe what it is like to step in it.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:27:03

Holy crammoli Rebecca. You have lakes and pools? Do you own an ocean too? How about a river or a canal? Duck poop. That’s nasty. Looks like cocoa puffs I bet.

Comment by zildjianpro
2009-07-06 03:31:39

When I was younger and taking swimming lessons a fat kid left a floater in the pool. True story.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 05:38:41

Dude, that’s tantamount to being in the water with a watermoccasin when you’re a kid!

Comment by Rebecca
2009-07-06 06:09:57

No oceans, canals or rivers. We live in Pinewood Lake which is catycorner from Thompson Jr. High. It is a very cool place to live. We have a 13 acre lake in our back yard. Ducks, migratory birds, bats and fish hang out here on a regular basis. We once had a great white pelican got lost in the fog and swam around in our lake for a few hours until the fog cleared.

I am sure the kid’s floater slithered and slunk just like a watermoccasin. That is pretty bad!

Comment by Erika Rae
2009-07-06 10:16:52

The strangest thing I have ever found in a pool was a dead, bloated caterpillar - 5 inches long and about 3/4ths of an inch thick. Gross.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 10:28:21

Did you eat it? Was there a hyperspace wormhole above the pool that you saw close as Alice dropped one of her bloody gloves from choking that wormy bitch to death? I mean, that’s another conspiracy I hear happens… at pools… in Colorado.

Comment by Erika Rae
2009-07-06 10:35:46

I’ll bet that’s in your book somewhere. You’re about to lay Colorado’s secrets wide open, aren’t you?

It was gooey, too. Leaking something green and gelatinous. I would have tasted it…if I’d had a piece of toast on me…but damn. I was swimming, after all - and we all know what the toaster manufacturers say about swimming and toasting. Not such a good combo.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 10:47:32

They should totally make a water proof toaster. I imagine the little hamster ball they would be floating in would be fun to try and sink and explode! Might want to get out of the pool first when that happens. Or send in a demolitions pig.

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-06 15:53:11

Rebecca’s dragonfly story reminds me of a little bird I tried to save when I was a girl. It had smashed into one of our 2nd story windows, thinking it was just more open sky…poor thing. It was in much better shape than some of the other birds we found after similar window crashes. It was awake and alert. I picked it up and put it in a little cardboard box, feeding it bugs and giving it fresh water to nurse it back to health. As it got stronger I decided to make it a poster board bird cage. It was very ornate. I was very proud of my bird cage. I thought my tiny patient enjoyed it as well, but I knew it would like its freedom. So after 3 days of healing and care I set it free into the world again. It seemed well and able. I was proud of what I had done. A few hours later I went outside and found my little bird floating dead in our pool. It was heartbreaking. I guess when it is your time, it is YOUR time. Sad and unreassuring, but true. :(

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 16:43:42

Maybe there was an evil pig in the area that drowned weak birds. :/

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-06 18:01:10

Oh, That evil swine!! Even PETA must be OK with the slaughter of the evil pigs of the world.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 18:15:53

I’m not so sure. I bet PETA has an island tucked away filled with evil piggies. Not sure what it’s called though… Island of Misfit Pigs? Oinker Island? Swine Inch Nails Island?

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-07 10:50:52

Lol! I’m sold on Swine Inch Nails Island! :) I may even have to visit. Hey, Great Britain sent all their criminals to Australia and now that’s a fabulous vacation spot. Swine Inch Nails Island will be a hot spot in no time. And if not, we can just send C-list celebs over there for another reality show. Sure can’t have enough of those…

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 10:57:21

Yeah but until it’s a fancy sort of Atlantis there’s going to be nothing but bloodshed I tell you! Yeah, a nice reality show horrorfest might be the next big MTV moneymaker.

Comment by Simon Smithson
2009-07-07 11:08:58

Swine Inch Nails?

Bravo, sir. Bravo.

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-07 11:10:10

Yep, you start making these reality shows life or death situations and watch those ratings go up, up, up.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 11:25:01

Thanks Simon. It’s a living.

Nicole: One day war will be a reality TV show. The ratings will be out of this universe. And somehow, the producers will still find a way to script it.

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-07 15:26:27

Of course they’ll need scripting, gotta get those Nike endorsements in there somewhere. War is an expensive business!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 18:58:24

Yeah, it’s all good until you blow up the shoes.

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-09 11:25:08

These would be super high-tech indestructible Nike wear. People would wear them in everyday life; to the mall & trips to Starbucks. It’s just like the everyday Joe’s who drive Hummers to their ho hum 9 to 5 jobs and then back home to the burbs…so necessary!!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-09 13:02:28

Oh crud. You just said Starbucks and I’m falling asleep. Maybe Starbucks can manufacture the shoes. Their franchises seem indestructible.

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-09 16:57:36

Oh I don’t know…their overly peppy staff sometimes makes me question future visits, but I always cave. I’m an addict. I admit it!!

Comment by Elizabeth Collins
2009-07-05 13:42:24

I’m thinking you have an unreliable narrator here. But that’s ok, because I like unreliable narrators.

Also, this pig is not from Akron, is it? Again, ok. You really captured the preternatural (or eerily…human?) screams that a pig can make. Poor little piggy. That’s it–I’m going vegan.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 13:52:00

hahhaha… I assumed the pig was from Akron or a nearby farm on the outskirts… heh. Oh, no, don’t go Vegas, I mean Vegan. What happens in Vegan stays in Vegan!

Comment by devlzadvcat
2009-07-05 13:43:02

Funny how we all try to run from the inevitable. He was going to end up bacon anyway.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 13:49:01

Oh my gosh. You see, bacon is the hidden mystery in God’s infinite book of wisdom… er, whatever I called it… hahaha… Now I’m hungry.

Comment by John Harte
2009-07-05 13:49:29

Great story. Being from New York City, the first time I encountered a pig was in Bakersfield, when the legendary local football coach Ned Permenter agreed to kiss a pig as part of a homecoming event. The thing was tiny, yet I never heard such a scream! Airhorn is exactly right.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 13:52:38

I remember when Permenter kissed a pig. I bet you took that classic Bako photo!

Comment by John Harte
2009-07-05 14:35:23

I did take the picture, though I have no idea where it is now. That was gosh, at least 25 years ago. Ned Permenter, by the way, is one of my favorite people of all time. I still see him around town and he’s just as gracious, happy and friendly as back in the day.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:59:25

I met him once when I was a kid at a wrestling tournament. I don’t know why that photo is etched in my mind. But I remember it.

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-05 13:50:04

That’s crazy! The piggy’s fate was already pre-determined. I can taste it now… mmm… Braciole di Maiale alla Bolognese or Porchetta. Yummy!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 13:54:14

I don’t know what you just said chingpea, but I’ll take two scoops. You know, that pig’s fate may have been predetermined. Do you think we all are? Like Rebecca said, “When it’s our time…”

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-05 14:09:10

Sometimes I do believe everyone’s fate is predetermined. All we can do is live our lives to the fullest…

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:11:46

You say that like you want to eat a plate of bacon.

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-06 20:18:56

Dude! I can soooo eat a whole plate of bacon!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 20:36:29

I’ve seen you do it. It’s sort of sickening and beautiful at the same time…

Comment by Brad Listi
2009-07-05 13:56:00

Christ, man. This read like a horror story for me. I’m (mostly) vegetarian and have a real soft spot for animals. That poor pig! I wanna start a pig farm and just have land and let the magic pigs run free.

It’s too much, man. It’s too much.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 13:58:06

You know, it’s fun in the comments, and it was fun watching the pig chase. But it was horrifying when it was carried into the restaurant like a little baby to a slaughter. My stomach did drop and still does when I think of that moment….

Comment by Brad Listi
2009-07-05 14:02:10

I’m just thankful this wasn’t a “Thousand Words” post. I couldn’t have handled an actual photo of the pig. It would have haunted my dreams.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:06:46

hahahaha… I do have a photo for that time period for the thousand-word piece. It’s an old yellow school bus and the only photo of that journey. There’s a magical story behind it that incorporates no pig deaths. Instead I’ll talk about a caravan across desert wastes with Norwegians and a huge elk that hop ten-foot fences like daises.

2009-07-05 14:00:37

Is this TNB Confessional Sunday?
Two stories about thievery.
One of your best Nick.
I like this tone and recalled
how the whole mid-90s vagabond thing was hot.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:04:27

That’s it: a mid 1990s vagabond thing! I never thought to call it that. It’s true, like the Beats all over again. We were wandering in this big Dead Generation thing, trying out America like a lost pair of shoes…

Comment by Matildakay
2009-07-05 14:16:35

“Trying out America like a lost pair of shoes…” I like that image.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:28:58

I mean, that’s the only way I can think of it. America was like what military historian John Keegan wrote as a Sonnenreise. I know, I’ve told you this before. But it really was this sort of land of lemon blossoms! I’m imagining Europe will be that way to me too. And other parts of the world. Like North Africa!

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-09 11:59:44

Yes, you really need to expand your travels to Europe. It’s more of a land of narrow cobblestone streets and ancient buildings with more history built upon them than the mortar holding them together. The air smells of sweet sea water, chocolates, coffee, roasting meats, markets lined for blocks with nothing but cheese… It’s heaven! You can eat of it forever and never be filled.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-09 13:03:39

All those thousands of history books never taught me about the smell!

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-09 17:02:41

You gotta live it Nick! If all you ever knew about sex came from books, do you think you would enjoy it or appreciate it as much as the real thing…? Food for thought…

Comment by Nick Dorado
2009-07-05 14:11:24

Hahahaha, great story. delzadvat stole my exact thought.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:16:21

Yeah. Poor beasty. If I had known. I would have helped it break free and watched it run into the nearby fields…

Comment by Matildakay
2009-07-05 14:14:00

Ok I’ll be hearing that pig scream in my dreams tonight! Yikes! I would never eat in a restaurant where they carried a screaming pig in the front door! haha.

Boy you guys were regular thieves living some kind of adventure for sure.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:18:24

It was an adventure back in the mid-1990s that’s for sure. College, some travel, counterculture. And that pig. It doesn’t haunt me very often anymore. Spiders haunt me way more than that pig, but in a different way. I sure hope the restaurant wasn’t open. I wondered that too. Maybe it’s an Ohio thing?

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-07 11:56:49

Ohio thing? Nah… I bet this type of stuff happens everywhere. People just don’t talk about it.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 12:37:45

You hiding some pig secrets there chingpea? Better be careful. The sheriff will start watchin’ ya.

Comment by Rich Ferguson
2009-07-05 14:19:12

As always, Nick, I can taste the dust and grit and air in each of your pieces. I can feel the soul and hear the heartbeat of each of your characters.

Especially that pig.

Nicely done, brother.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:31:48

That pig will live on in infamy, Rich. It’s legacy is to live forever in prose, as well as to fill the plate of some Ohioan. Thanks for the kind words….

Comment by Penny Ash
2009-07-05 14:27:36

Heh An uncle of mine had a pet javelina that used to pop it’s teeth and chase my cousin’s wife around the house. It loved Fruit Loops.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:34:02

Holy crud I had never heard the name javelina until just now. In these parts people just called wild pigs, wild pigs or boars… It loved Froot Loops??? hahahaha… How the heck can you make a wild pig tame? Amazing.

Comment by Penny Ash
2009-07-05 14:48:06

LOL Must be a West Texas thing. He rescued it as a baby (the pig not the uncle) when the mother was hit by a car. Same uncle used to catch and keep rattlers too.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 15:00:58

What the heck? Your uncle was the croc hunter guy. Every time I see a snake in the wild I bolt for freedom. Never seen a feral pig.

Comment by Penny Ash
2009-07-05 15:44:07

Pretty much lol, amature archeologist, artist, football coach, animal rescuer, he was quite a guy.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 15:48:46

Dude. Penny. Your uncle was Indiana Jones. No wonder he wasn’t making movies for a while. He was at your house.

Comment by Penny Ash
2009-07-07 12:33:08

Eek. Our secret is out

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-09 13:04:22

I hope you kept the hat.

Comment by Jordan Belardes
2009-07-05 14:27:50

Ha, I remember that damn pig crying like some two-year-old kid haha. That thing was obnoxious and I’ll never forget it, nor will I ever forget that summer.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:30:42

Hahahaha…Where were you? In the car? Were you outside the car? Did we go in that restaurant? For some reason I think someone had to go to the bathroom and the guy carrying the pig walked by. I can’t remember. Help oh young one with the solid memory!

Comment by Kacey
2009-07-05 14:27:58

“That was a sad story!! All stories should have happy endings! Mom, you need to tell your friend that he needs to finish that story!” Written by Rebecca and quoted by Kacey 8 years old..

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 14:43:13

Oh wow. Kacey, if I had known that pig was going to be eaten, I would have knocked it out of that guy’s hands and watched them all chase it down the street. Of course, that would have been the wrong thing to do, because it was obviously that guy’s pig.

But sometimes, you win little battles so things live longer. Like that dragonfly. It suffered less cause you rescued it from a slow drowning icky death. When it was chomped fast by a hungry bird it suffered less and got to live a little longer.

I think if I were to write a happy ending I would write: “And then the two people brought back the money to the gas station they owed money to, and kept the pig as part of their family. They traveled across the country, and stopped at Disneyland so the pig could ride the Matterhorn.”

Comment by Kacey
2009-07-05 16:48:56

” I would like that ending.” said Kacey.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 16:57:15

Hi Kacey: If I write a pretend version then the pig will live! Sweet piglets!!

Comment by Kacey
2009-07-07 12:37:29

Kacey was very happy with your response. All I have thought about the last 24 hours is how that story would look for kids. Of course magic fairy dust would be involved. I wonder what your magic pig illustrations would look like.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 12:59:40

They’d probably suck. I’m getting rusty.

Comment by Rebecca
2009-07-07 13:48:59

If Kacey was batting her big green eyes at you I am sure they wouldn’t suck.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 13:56:37

Oh wow. Yeah. I’d probably spend the rest of the week trying to draw one cool pig bedazzled in a make-believe storyland of sequined kings and queens…

Comment by ItsJustMeMe
2009-07-05 14:36:47

Great story!
You’d be surprised at how many pigs run amok in Akron.
As a matter of fact I think it’s a pass time sport for most young men in small towns across Ohio. (catching pigs that have found a brief moment of freedom that is)

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 15:01:54

Dear goodness, who would have thought I’d stumbled across a local custom. I’m glad it didn’t involved mating.

Comment by Jordan Belardes
2009-07-05 14:42:21

I should have known you would do that. Ummm, all I can remember for sure was that I was standing outside the car looking at this all happen. Peg was with us, that’s for sure. The last comment helped on here helped clarify something though because it did seem like a normal routine to these people who were trying to get the pig.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 15:03:52

You were outside the car? See, so much chaos that my mind couldn’t place you. And peg was there? I bet she followed in another car. Crazy: my memory and that pig story. I still think we went in that restaurant and somehow saw the guy with the pig before they escaped. No idea why we were in there, though. Damn, my memory sucks…

Comment by Maddie Grant
2009-07-05 14:47:31

Wow. Poor pig. Awesome story though! :)

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 15:26:40

Yes! Maddie Grant, the queen of social networking on TNB. I bow down to your D.C. wisdom of the poor pig…

2009-07-05 18:51:26

At least you didn’t shout, “That’s some pig!”

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 21:08:22

I think I was laughing to hard at the ruckus… until he was carried away of course. A sad day in pigdom.

2009-07-05 15:19:03

Poor Wilbur, no Charlotte to save him! this is a great little story.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 15:25:56

I bet it was Wilbur. Damn straight there was no Charlotte and I just stood there like a happy idiot.

Comment by Robin Slick
2009-07-05 15:22:33

My response is almost identical to Brad’s. I’m borderline vegetarian as it is and I’m currently sitting here shaking while hearing squeals and cries…oh why, Nick, why?

Which, of course, also means that it’s an extremely well written piece!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 15:25:12

Oh Robin, this is why I love you. Here I go questioning my writing in my head and your compliment makes me blush like a pig under a car. haha… Yeah, I don’t want to know what the translated text of those squeals were saying… You mean, they don’t have pig chases in Philly all the time?

Comment by Matildakay
2009-07-06 20:15:50

Thank goodness you don’t speak pig-latin! Then you’d know what that pig was saying in his squeals! Yikes!

By the way… I love Robin too!

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 20:38:48

Robin is easy to like. It’s cause she’s so funny. She should do stand-up.

Comment by Sheree
2009-07-05 15:32:05

Wait. There’s a perfect explanation here. The pig was a big fan of lasagna. Turkey lasagna. ‘Cause turkeys are just plain irritating. His usual table was not ready when he arrived, which set him into a hissy fit. The table was then cleared and they carefully got him and not only served him his usual lasagna, but a fine glass of pino grigio, which was on the house. The pig slept well that night on a bed of rose petals.

It could happen. :\

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 15:45:05

Hahahaha… this comment had me busting up out loud. You know, I want to believe that pigs can fly and work the pasta. I’m with you. Happy ending. The guy put a bib on the pig and slid him into a high chair for some SWEINEKIN and a nice dessert…

Comment by Sheree
2009-07-05 16:25:06

Mmm…yes. Tiramisu. Heaven in the mouth. We can dream. Loved your story, even though I wanted to re-write a happier ending. :(

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 16:58:06

Yeah, I disappointed an 8-year-old kid on here too. I hope she doesn’t have scary pig dreams tonight. :/ Now I want junk food!

Comment by Laura
2009-07-05 15:36:26

Loved it! Your stories are always so realistic. Feel like I was there!


Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 15:42:46

Laura, I wish you were there. Maybe you would have saved the piggy!! hahaha. Thanks for kind words…

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 15:43:08

By the way, Laura. You take great photos of Highway fires!

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Comment by Donni
2009-07-05 15:53:29

That was SOME pig. LOL. I really enjoyed your story.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 16:07:14

Yeah, somebody ate some pig that day… hahahaha… OK, there I go getting mean again..

Comment by Missy
2009-07-05 16:00:54

bacon has to start somewhere! I’ve had my share of wild animals having a dad who hunts. Quail, pheasant, squirrel, rabbit…
But never fresh piggy…

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 16:06:43

I wonder if this pig would have had a better life in a Russian Circus. Probably would have gotten eaten there too though. heh. I didn’t grow up around hunters… I’m such a city slicker.

Comment by Julia Heatherwick
2009-07-05 16:08:38

One of many reasons I am vegetarian. When I see a dead animal on the side of the road I always say the same little prayer, so here it goes for the lil piggy from Akron. “Thank you for the life you lived on earth.”

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 16:19:27

Aw, that was sweet, Julia. That little piggy’s soul just ate a carrot and thanked thee.

Comment by DamitJanet
2009-07-05 16:18:12

Great short story. I am always amazed at how well you pull a reader into a scene. Depending on what you know you can make your own ending to a rather simple but crazy event! Nice. Can’t wait for the new twitter novel.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 16:21:55

Yes, “Bumble Square”. Folks that’s which is my follow-up to Small Places, which was recently featured in the Brazilian newspaper, Folha. Can you say Carnival??? Thanks Janet. Always love your commentary.

Comment by DamitJanet
2009-07-05 16:40:33

I am so ready for “Bubble Square” to start!

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 17:38:29

I hope you like it. It’s a lot different than the goofy corporate mockery of Small Places. Do you know anything about the story? I can’t remember if I revealed any of it yet…

Comment by Zara
2009-07-05 16:18:54

Poor piggy. I’m off bacon now.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 16:27:04

Now where will all the bacon go???

2009-07-05 16:37:16

Right into my belly.


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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 16:58:58

hehe! Get in mahhh belly!! That’s it! I bet Fat Bastard was in there and at the pig in one bite…

Comment by Irene Zion (Lenore's Mom)
2009-07-05 16:22:40

Oh Nick!
Poor little piggie. He almost made his escape. But almost wasn’t good enough.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 16:26:45

Irene, would you have dove under the car for the piggy then set him free? Or made him into a soup right there?

Comment by Brian
2009-07-05 16:27:33

Great story! Is there an epilogue where you follow the pig into the restaurant for a nice pasta with braised pork loin?

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 17:39:48

Oh man, no. I tried talking to a few people about this tale. We can’t remember if we actually went in the restaurant beforehand or not… it’s all muddy! I ate chicken tonight. Does that count?

Comment by Brian
2009-07-05 17:46:03

I think that clears you, karma-wise. And if I ever find myself in Akron, I’ll remember your story and go vegan for the day.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 19:03:54

Oh come on Brian, you can’t go Vegan. For you that would be the first stage of insanity.

Comment by Simon Smithson
2009-07-05 16:30:06

Wonderful, wonderful piece. Although I do feel bad for the pig. At least he made a break for freedom.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 16:59:35

A mad dash. It was his own Logan’s Run. Unlucky escapee though…

Comment by Simon Smithson
2009-07-05 17:00:36

I hope that the rest of the pigs made it…

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 17:08:04

We can only hope that pigs everywhere are breaking loose, Simon. There’s a secret code I need to tap into.

Comment by Hayley Love
2009-07-05 16:30:09

You know I spend a lot of time with pigs and have a bunch of pig friends. And I know exactly what a pig scream sounds like, or what it’s not like, because it’s not like anything else! Great story, I love imagining a Nick my age in the summer in Ohio having adventures and scrounging around.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 17:00:24

hahahaha… that’s right. I was young, not much grey hair. And scroungin’ like a crazy cat. Those were the days. Hey, we gonna scrounge in Tucson??? Woot!

Comment by Tawni
2009-07-05 16:43:23

Wow. I couldn’t look away until I read every word. And now I’m haunted by the mental image of the pig being carried away crying and scared. Intense, great writing.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 17:11:10

Aw, thanks Tawni. I tried to be suspenseful. It wasn’t quite Cujo, though I considered making everyone think it was a killer pig. heh!! Instead, we are the killas.

Comment by Connie
2009-07-05 17:52:39

When our youngest son was about 3 years old, hubby went pig hunting. Back from the pig hunt , hubby carries in pig meat, ground up into sausage and wrapped in paper which promptly filled the freezer portion of our refridgerator. About the same time we paid our income taxes, leaving us with just enough money in the bank to buy gas until the next pay day.
No screaming pigs just a screaming mom.

After a grueling day at work, I walked into the house and was smacked in the face by a horrible stench. I marched into the kitchen and opened the pantry to see if someone had left something in there to rot, nothing out of the ordinary. Opened the fridge and not only is it hot, but there is stinky water leaking down from the freezer area. I open the freezer and you guessed it.. all the meat has spoiled.

I am sick that our meals for a week are ruined and wondering if we have to buy a new fridge, that we obviously cannot afford, about that time i look at the dial settings of the fridge and freezer and they are on OFF. I ask the 10 year old daughter .. “Did you turn off the fridge?” her answer “Can you do that?” , next I ask the 7 year old son same question his answer “No.” Finally I ask the 3 year old “James did you turn off the fridge?” “YES I DID! It was waking me up!”

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 18:10:33

You win. Hands down. I give you the gross pig prize of the century. Hahahaha… Wow. I can only imagine it smelled like roadkill in your house for a month…. Poor pig. Dead and not even eaten….

Comment by Connie
2009-07-05 18:16:57

Not only stinky but.. nothing to eat, all food had to be tossed, had to bum from our parents for a week. And what could we do to the 3yr old who turned off the fridge??
Life is full of adventures.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 18:23:22

No kidding. You can’t bust a kid for that too much. Survival can be so rough. People sometimes take it for granted. Life is rough~!

Comment by Keely
2009-07-05 18:02:58

Great sensory story, N.L. I feel like I was there with you… but that poor little piggy. Makes me wish the story had ended with you rescuing him and taking him with you in your car on a wild trek across the country. He would become your best friend and live with you happily until you were both old. What? Too much Disney?

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 18:04:12

Ah, I like Disney endings. I’m a sucker for them too. That’s why we like Disney I guess. Real life is so different…

Comment by Ross (charliechap)
2009-07-05 19:38:51

Damn! That would have been awesome if you and your girl had grabbed that guy and ran off into the sunset…lol

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 19:42:59

My life could have been a great Western. If only I had paid attention…

Comment by Matildakay
2009-07-06 20:20:13

If only you had paid attention?? You’ve paid attention in great detail and expressed it through your writing my friend. Although I would love to read the western version of your life. I’m picturing you in chaps astride a horse! Would you be man enough to wear spurs?

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 19:00:44

I’d wear spurs, a cowboy hat and some snakeskin boots. And some of those cool Bono sunglasses.

Comment by cesareo
2009-07-05 18:18:07

I wonder how it tasted…

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 18:23:42

Like chicken.

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-07 12:06:32

like chicken?! no, no, no! BACON…

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 12:38:54

CHICKEN! hahaha

2009-07-05 18:34:46

Why do I get the feeling that pig saver wasn’t taking the porker inside to share a plate of pasta?

Great story!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 18:48:58

They could have been having a calzone!

Comment by Lenore
2009-07-05 19:36:05

oh god! this made me want to cry! that poor crying pig!
i can tell that you loved it, though, even if you didn’t really know it. that poor little pig.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 19:43:43

I was in love with the pig. It was comical. It was a blessing. It was someone’s dinner.

Comment by Ross (charliechap)
2009-07-05 19:37:17

As they say pigs are smarter than dogs, I’m tempted to believe that little guy knew EXACTLY what was going on. No freakin’ wonder he was crying.

Maybe you should name your next book “Pigs and Predestination”? ;)

Wicked nice read! Elicits some fond memories of hot ’60s summers…

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 19:44:54

I was born in ‘68. I can’t remember much about ’60s summers. But I bet they were great. I think pigs are smart critters too…

Comment by Miss Nesbit
2009-07-05 20:17:50

This was a great story! I’d have to say my favorite metaphor was about the pig looking like he’d seen God’s Book of Infinity open on a desk. Favorite part was the end. Poor little pig, I’m sure he tasted delicious though!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 21:01:46

Wouldn’t it be sadly ironic if the book all of humanity wanted to gaze into was only seen by one lucky pig who was crucified for some trucker’s bacon-filled lunch?

Comment by Tim
2009-07-05 20:28:42

Ignorance truly is bliss, now pass the bacon bits.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 21:02:24

And some croutons, yo.

Comment by Matt
2009-07-05 20:40:27

Chrissie Hynde had probably gone home for a visit and tried to help the piggy escape! Did you notice any thick eye-linered rocker babes peaking around?

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 21:04:06

In 1998 when I went back to the area I saw the Pretenders at Blossom. I would liken it to seeing Korn at the Rabobank, Mento Buru at Fishlips, The Get Up Get Down at Rileys, or Dirty Spanglish at the Gate.

Comment by smayer
2009-07-05 21:16:51

To me, the story is like a cross between the magic realism of Garcia-Marquez and a classic American road trip yarn. True, the pig didn’t fly or give Tarot readings, but the squeeling porker brought a surreal moment to an otherwise down-to-earth scene about the travels of those Jack & Dianne characters, “two American kids, in the heartland.”

I’m thinking the nice thing about that Bonneville was you could sleep in it and stretch out.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 21:34:48

Except that the Bonneville ends up getting packed with the girlfriends things that we haul across the country before breaking down in the desert in New Mexico. It was truly like a Buck Owens journey, complete with a car-top carrier and a pet lizard. Thanks so much for commenting, Steve!

Comment by David
2009-07-05 21:45:32

The story was interesting — it kept me intrigued. I was interested mostly in what was going to happen that pig. I think you left enough mystery to make the mind wander about the poor little pig without making the story about the pig. Although, I see it as a story about the pig, narrated by a guy at a gas station watching this crazy pig. Does this make sense.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 21:55:27

Makes sense to me. I think you nailed it. Mystery is key in writing to me. Make people wonder and they will keep reading…hopefully. I look at writing like a good rock song. Needs to have the melodic hooks, and decent chorus.

Comment by Lisa
2009-07-05 21:47:10

I really liked that story - it just seemed to be so realistic, and of course I loved the reference to Hunter S. Thompson, who is in fact one of my all-time favorite writers. I must say I liked the beginning the most when you are describing the situation that you and your girlfriend found yourselves in by that time. It sounds so realistic, and then suddenly the whole scene turns when the pig comes in–it is one of these really interesting turns that might at first seem ridiculous but then, in the end, everything makes sense again. Congrats for achieving this, Nick–this was definitely a good read!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-05 21:57:59

Lisa, you are always one of my favorite people to comment. You’re so far away over in Germany, but at the same time you’re always right inside my head, figuring me out, figuring out what writing is all about, and encouraging me along the way to keep writing more and more. Sorry that exams are coming up for you. I know that is always a rough time. In a way, the beginning was the most important part of the story to me. It was important to sort of explain these colliding worlds between the couple and the pig…

Comment by Robin L.
2009-07-05 22:54:38

Oh. My. Gosh. I don’t even know what to say to that, Nick. That’s insane. When I got to the last line, I read it and didn’t even understand it. I walked away, came back a few seconds later and had to read the last part over again before I realized where the pig was going. Ouch.

I raised pigs for the Kern County Fair when I was a kid for at least 10 years. Every one of those pigs I raised became freezer meat for my family, and it all happened behind the backyard where my pigs lived. You know what I mean. I used to eat the meat when I was a lot younger, but I can’t do that anymore. Now it’s the buffalo meat that I can’t eat. Everyone else has always enjoyed our meat, though.

That poor pig…so sad. I’d have kicked that guy’s butt and said, “NO WAY!” if I had been there. I’m not a vegetarian; I’m a flexitarian. I don’t like to eat pork, ham, etc., but I can tolerate chicken and turkey right now. I try to go for the “tough farm girl” look, but I will never be able to eat the animals that I have raised. Never again. Very interesting story, Nick.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 05:46:06

Robin: Your words ring honest and true. You’re someone who has raised animals and to a degree have also fallen in love with them. I think that’s a special bond, even if animals do go by way of the ax or butcher’s knife.

My stomach has gotten weaker the older I’ve got too. Some foods I just have trouble eating as I’ve developed more of a sensitivity to death.

Yet, I can’t help but loving bacon. Call me a caveman or a shark. If I smell it, that’s like blood in the water. Though I know I couldn’t handle it if I ever saw a pig slaughtered. Well, unless I was starving in one of those apocalyptic films…

I wish I was a vegetarian. Seems healthy.

Comment by D.R. Haney
2009-07-06 00:19:00

This catches me at a moment when I’m thinking very much about mortality. I almost don’t know what to say, except that I know I’ll continue to think about it for a long while–possibly till I’m carted off under no doubt different circumstances but the same overall outcome.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 05:49:00

By golly my friend I would hope no one would ever drag you into a Hollywood Italian restaurant for soup fodder! But I see what you mean. Sometimes we go through these times in life where we wonder if all we have done will catch up to us. You know, just leave us lying on some couch getting our chest pumped by a paramedic far before what we think should be our time.

Comment by Kari
2009-07-06 01:32:59

Great story! It’s very well-written and engaging. I love pigs - I honestly wish I could have a little one as a pet, so this story is heartwrenching for me to read! I’ve been to Ohio; my brother lives there now. All I can say is “well, that’s Ohio for you.” Never going back! Keep up the good posts!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 05:52:03

Aw, I liked Ohio the two times I spent summers there. I would go back just to traipse through Cuyahoga woods and search for the legend of the Peninsula python! Not sure I would have a pig as a pet unless it were one of those giant mean boars with huge tusks. Oh, and I would put a suit of armor on it and teach it to answer the front door with snarling grunts. Not that I’m good at snarling grunts.

Comment by DW
2009-07-06 02:05:19

Nothing quite like an Akron Gas Tank Soiled Pigskin Italian Dinner if you ask me. The only thing that comes close is the Lamont Swap Meet Port-A-Potty Soaked Cat Tacos I ate once. Of course,Corn On The Cob with a little Mayonnaise Spread is a perfect compliment to either!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 05:54:50

They should sell all of the above at Buck Owens Crystal Palace and even add another by slapping your name on a ham hock pig dish called the “Buckaroo Dave Ham Hock Special.” I would at least order it to get my picture taken next to it!

2009-07-06 03:49:17

Well done Nick, you did it again. Another example of
the way you set me “traveling without moving”… I was at that gas station
and I smelt that car… I even tasted that bread… (I am going to read it
again listening to “Space cowboy” by Jamiroquai) I especially like the
“kaleidoscope” reference- Yes! As exactly like when you look into a
kaleidoscope, your story finds the point of intersection between all its
elements, creating a wonderful reflection & building up to the grand finale.
You made me wonder: What if God looked at us through a kaleidoscope and what if
by reflection, we might be seeing things only when the light reflects off the
mirrors? That would explain why sometimes we miss all signs and we stand “like
idiots under the crackle of distant storms” … when we realize… it’s too late!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 06:24:49

See, I like the way you ponder, Laura. A true poet. It’s fun, like this piece, a fun slice of fuzzy memory that’s great to just ponder and have a good time with…even the mysterious ending is supposed to be horrifyingly fun to think about.

Comment by Dana Martin
2009-07-06 05:21:12

That last bit took me by surprise! My absolute fave part was the description of standing under the crackle of distant storms (such a short line, but in that one line I could feel, smell, and I was there without being there). I like ’seeing’ writing, and you do a fabulous job with that.

Love starting out my day reading good stuff!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 06:26:18

I love a TNB compliment on a Monday! I hope the Writers of Kern are going strong! Ah, the crackle of distant storms. Bakersfield could use some storms. Seems like it last rained a decade ago.

Comment by Carolyn Burns Bass
2009-07-06 06:05:40

I’ve heard pigs squeal, sad and eerie and prescient. I assure you, I would squeal too, if carried into a slaughterhouse. But then, do they slaughter animals in the restaurant kitchens of Akron?

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 06:29:12

I think animals get slaughtered in all kinds of places we don’t often think about… :/

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-06 06:51:55

Who wants to see their dinner dragged in through the front door of where they are sitting and eating…? I think I would lose my appetite being a patron of that restaurant. At Brazilian steak houses they bring out your meat on giant sword-like skewers and cut it for you right at the table. I don’t understand or appreciate such a display of my food. Just let me eat. I don’t want to see my dinner resembling its original form. Too sad…I’ve only eaten at one of those Brazilian food places once. I got sick afterwards. Maybe it was some karmic payback for using food as more than sustenance and making the beasts flesh an entertainment piece to gawk at. Or maybe it was just bad food. In any case, I feel for that little pig. I hope it wasn’t truly conscious of what was to become of him.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 07:04:20

I ate at a Brazilian-themed restaurant in a Vegas casino once. I can’t remember which casino though. It was yummy. I’m more fond of the Cuban restaurant that was in Bakersfield for a short time. They made some amazing entrees. And with the plantains mixed in. Wowser. Their Oxtail dish amazed me. So was the sauce they made for their chicken and potatoes. And their big fried round hush puppy-looking papas things…

I’m guessing the pig was conscious of something. Enough so that it ran away from someone and screamed when it was caught. I think a lot of creatures and people are conscious of “the end.” I mean look at Michael Jackson. He was only 50 and yet was having a tour called “This is it!” It was almost like he was expecting something, which did happen. By the way, is it just me or is everyone listening to tons of Michael Jackson music lately??

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-06 15:34:05

Yeah, I think MJ’s itunes music downloads jumped up 17,000% after his death. That’s some major bucks to somebody after all this legal stuff is over with. Whoo!

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 16:57:55

No kidding. I keep listening to “Rock With You” and “Human Nature.” It’s the 80s all over!

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-09 12:04:45

It’s been the 80’s all over again for a while now. Haven’t you been following the latest fashion trends…? :) I think I should start crimping my hair again….hmmm

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-09 13:17:17

My favorite ’80s retro sort of band was called World Wide Spies. They were awesome, put out a great album, then broke up. Sucks.

Comment by Holly C.
2009-07-06 07:17:30

Love it! “…the car smelled for awhile.” LOL

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 07:29:50

It was like that Bull Black Nova from the Wilco song, I’m telling you…

Comment by Dana
2009-07-06 08:03:51

Great piece Nick. I can visualize it… almost too well.

That’ll do pig.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 08:14:57

Aw, thanks Dana, I was hoping you would comment and make me laugh with a one-liner. heh.

Comment by Dana
2009-07-06 08:57:08

Crap! My picture didn’t show up. I’m so technically challenged sometimes…

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 09:04:52

Oh whoah. That was him! That was the pig! That’s what you call a happy ham maker. hahaha…

Comment by hayjulz
2009-07-06 08:12:23

I once encountered a loose pig, a runaway potbelly pig scampering through Oildale. I thought I would be helpful and catch it and take it home until I could find the owner. I chased it down the street, not even thinking about how I would control it or bring it home. As I caught up with it, I squatted down and scratched his back and was thinking about how I would herd it home. About that time he reared up on his hind legs and started humping my arm. I decided maybe I didn’t need to take him home after all. I went back to the house and called Animal Control and told them there was a pig on the loose. WHEW!

That’s my pig story…

Great story as usual Nick

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 08:17:41

Oh wow, you were pig humped! There’s something triumphant in having chased a pig through Oildale only to get dry humped by the beast. That’s really a great story. I have one more pig story, and I was tempted just now to tell it. I will wait for maybe a Part II one day. Different pig, different pig place BTW.

Comment by averagebetty
2009-07-06 08:16:57

“Nobody asked where the pig was going. No one asked who owned the pig or what its piggy name was.” That’s how it always is I guess. Clearly, he was going for a bowl of pasta and all you can eat bread sticks…

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 08:36:48

Well spoken by the queen of food herself. I’m still hoping for the Average Betty food franchise where I can devour a mountain of bread sticks… er, um, the healthy variety of course…

I can imagine that pig ate more than bread and pasta that day…

Comment by Megan
2009-07-06 08:51:45

So YOU’RE the reason we all to pre-pay inside huh? Thanks a lot. I always get fleeced in convenience stores. Do I want a car wash? Do I want to donate a dollar to Children’s Miracle Network? Did I see gum is on sale 2 for eighty cents? OK, ok, ok.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 08:56:39

It’s true. I am to blame not only for that but I have been giving Michael Jackson IV anesthesia for 12 years, and I talked Palin into stepping down so she can join Fox News as a talking bobblehead. Oh, wait, I may have screwed up. That pig was supposed to drive the getaway car!

Comment by Jessica Anya Blau
2009-07-06 09:39:28

FABULOUS story. And, strangely, I find this story sexy. I’m serious. There’s something about the girlfriend, the stolen fuel, the bread for dinner, and the pig that remind me of wild make-out sessions and dry humping. Am I wrong here?

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 09:52:09

I tried to make it a bit gritty and sexy. But wasn’t sure many people would find it that way. People get so caught up in what’s politically correct these days. In fact, some people might be thumbing their noses at the story right now. And that’s OK too. Thanks for seeing the story for what it is: rough and sexy times.

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-06 16:23:23

I was thinking the same thing reading the beginning of the story…traveling through the dusty back roads of America in a car that can’t get anymore dirty. Gritty. Bonnie and Clyde. Sex and thievery…I can see it!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 16:51:24

There, another punk gets it!! hahahaha Wooo!

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Comment by Kim
2009-07-06 10:03:22

Good thing you guys ate bread for dinner, not meatballs or something….hah.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 10:23:31

Or pigballs. Hahahaha. There, I said it! OK, blasphemy, I know! Shoot me. But be gentle.

Comment by Erika Rae
2009-07-06 10:24:15

So…what did you make with your supply of eggplant? Eggplant on its own isn’t very good. Fry it in a little olive oil and add salt, however, and shazam. Yes, I did just say shazam. Now that I am no longer preggers, I have a storehouse of weirdness pouring out of my brain.

I like how the guy who caught the pig sat there and cuddled with it for a while, as if trying to soothe it. Is this a form of curing bacon in advance?


Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 10:33:04

I think I hollowed it out and made a little maze. Inside, after I shrunk myself, I sort of made an edible art deco living suite that I tributed to Michael Jackson and Donny Osmond. Cause they were both on TV in the 70s and they each liked purple. Oh wait, Osmond is still alive, isn’t he? I don’t remember even eating it. I actually think I just stared at it hoping my burning X-ray vision would cook it into a pizza.

Comment by Erika Rae
2009-07-06 10:40:57

Nick and the Giant Eggplant, by Roald Dahl - Coming soon to movie theaters near you!

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 10:54:31

I thought he boycotted eggplants because it was such a weird compound word. Like “boy” “cott”. That’s a weird compound sort of word too. In fact, I’m done with that word. What were we talking about?

Comment by S.D. Hintz
2009-07-06 12:45:55

I guess the deep dish special was Canadian bacon that day.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 12:59:49

S.D., for a horror writer you’re politely holding back. I can only imagine the back-room restaurant pig-gutting horrors you could cook up if you had wanted to bleed this post dry…

Comment by Christopher
2009-07-06 13:41:11

You have this knack for writing things that are very easily visualized and thus/further activated for the reader. I always (pardon cliché) feel “like I’m there” when I read your stuff.

And no, I’ve never been to Akron. But I think I know it.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 13:52:35

Thanks brother Christopher. Your words are always a welcome sight. Sounds like your tour went really well… Maybe one day soon I’ll make it up to Sac City and we’ll read some stuff together. Viva!

Comment by Erika Rae
2009-07-06 13:47:27

BTW - my favorite line in this post: “The car smelled for a while.”


Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 13:53:07

It was weird sitting in it knowing that ghosts haunted the car at the bottom of a lake.

Comment by A.H. Cruz
2009-07-06 14:41:05

Really liked this story. I’ve heard many pigs squealing and you got it right, I could hear it while reading about it.

Reminded me of a book I read last month about this guy (a hitman) who got a pig as a gift, thought of cooking it first but looked into it’s eyes and decided not to, so he took it as a pet then married this girl that killed and cooked it for his birthday. He couldn’t stand it so he went into a killing frenzy.

Thanks for sharing this :)

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 14:43:43

Oh wow A.H., who writes that stuff? A slaughterfest over a pig slaughter! I love it! Where do I sign up? I hope there’s an evil gypsy in the story like in “Drag Me To Hell.”

Comment by A.H. Cruz
2009-07-06 14:52:42

Haha! The author’s name is Patricia Melo, she is from Brazil, the book is titled ‘The Killer: A Psychological Thriller’. Really good read, I recommend it. Killing, blood, sex, but no evil gypsies. :(

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 15:07:46

I can live without the gypsy this time. Melo sounds like the kind of author who needs to be in a straight jacket while she’s writing. I love those kinds of writers who put you into the darkest stories imaginable!

Comment by Todd
2009-07-06 14:51:35

Funny story. I imagine the Italian restaurant might have CURED the pig of its magic.

And like that, Prosciutto!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 15:10:37

Oh man, Todd, I just started busting up at that! hahahaha.

Comment by chris cole (@carlomarx)
2009-07-06 15:03:05

this is a fun piece and well articulated, but the beauty is in how the author summoned that interesting cultural middle ground of akron ‘96, through this random tale. well played, mr. belardes…

“We were idiot lovers lost somewhere past middle America where dirt roads and city asphalt collided in God’s kaleidoscope.”

how excellent is that line…

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 15:14:08

I wonder if the Akron/Cuyahoga Falls area in the mid-1990s really changed all that much since I left? Probably a few more Starbucks and fast-food joints… Thanks for liking a line that I fret so much over… readers never see writers sweat over the seemingly simplest of lines…

Comment by Cheryl
2009-07-06 15:49:23

Ranger Nick? An autobiographical character, perhaps? (Are you secretly growing eggplant while writing about bacon?)

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 16:47:49

His name was Nick. Seriously. He had blonde hair and a Ranger suit. He was dapper. I met many Nicks in Ohio. I swear it was a land o nicks! Although, that’s not a bad secret to have…

Comment by Jan
2009-07-06 16:16:49

You did a wonderful job with this short story..You can take a simple memory and make me feel the emotion as if i were there..Really enjoy reading your short stories and articles..Yo,keep up the good work ;)

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 16:49:47

Thanks Jan. I was thinking about a completely insane Vegas story next. Only my insane Vegas stories are tame compared to most. :/ But I can write about scorpions in the desert and cool chicks and Fremont Street!

Comment by S.D. Hintz
2009-07-06 17:24:04

Yeah, you’re right, Nick. I’ll revise my comment: The deep dish special was Canadian bacon bled from a dismembered snout. LOL

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 18:16:43

Now you’re talking horror writing excellence!

Comment by Sal p.
2009-07-06 18:33:27

“We were idiot lovers lost somewhere past middle America where dirt roads and city asphalt collided in God’s kaleidoscope.” I forgot just how good of a writer you are mein…Can’t wait to read more…
“Amor, Luz, y Paz”

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 18:54:00

Thanks Sal. Haven’t seen you in a while. I hope all is well in your world. We need to go read some Latino poems in the dusty Bakersfield sunsets to the hobos in Mill Creek, yo.

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-06 20:23:38

After reading all the comments, I’m reminded of the days when my family used to prepare for a huge party where we’d feast on a roast pig…. Oooh… I love that stuff. It’s so island girl of me.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 20:42:15

Did they put anything in the mouth of the pig and did anyone eat the pig’s eyes? I know, I’m being gross, but I’ve known some Mexican families whose old times would eat an entire cow or sheep’s head at a roast. But I’m not sure about pigs…??

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-06 21:06:37

Yeah. They put a shiny red apple in the mouth of the pig but no one ate the pig’s eyes. His ears, his snout, his feet, his tail… those parts all gone. :)

My favorite was always the skin… especially off the sides or belly! Yummers!

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 21:10:24

I imagine that would have been a lot like stripping a Honda in Delano. Scratch that. A Toyota. lol.

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-06 21:36:30

Nope… you got it all wrong. There’s more money in the Benzo’s…

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 10:58:24

I thought that was the name of a Chinese food restaurant until it slowly came to me…. Mercedes… hahahaha

Comment by Brin Friesen
2009-07-06 21:55:42

300 or bust!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-06 21:59:32

I’m telling you, I could get 500 if I just showed some skin. Of course the comments would all be people saying, “Get that dude to the asylum. And this time throw away the ferkin’ key.”

Comment by Marni Grossman
2009-07-07 10:15:44

500 comments would, I think, require the Full Monty. I eagerly await this development.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 11:01:26

Marni, it could happen. I just have to find a hundred comment happy people hiding under a cyber rock. Oh they’re there… I need bait!

Comment by Nicole
2009-07-09 12:09:41

Well so far you’ve just stripped the beard from your avatar. Where’s the rest?? Marni and I are waiting…….. ;)

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-13 08:27:24

Any more and I will be stripped of my humanity. See Jessica Blau for great tips on nudity. In fact, her book “The Summer of Naked Swim Parties” is awesome!

Comment by Brin Friesen
2009-07-06 22:28:56

They’re dropping like Glass Joe off the charts. Beware the wrath of Brad as you topple his toppers.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 11:00:21

After putting up with my crap in the last few days I’m afraid Listi might shank me if I were to actually get that many comments. I better start making some prison moonshine for him in case he gets caught.

Comment by Johnny B
2009-07-07 11:58:20

I feel bad for the pig, but, there’s nothing like fresh sausage.

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-07 12:09:24

i have to agree. :)

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 19:02:58

Hey, don’t they make tofu in the same flavor??

Comment by devlzadvcat
2009-07-07 12:00:54

Still want that BLT! LMAO.

You know I didn’t mention it before but I know the cry you are talking about. When I was about five or so we had a horse at the stables and we would go out to groom it and feed it. Well one afternoon while we were there we heard a shrill cry. Curious I walked around to the other side of the stables and saw this pig strung up by it’s hind feet hanging from the rafter. Quicker than butter melting on Bakersfield sidewalk in the summer a man took this razor thing, looked like hair cutting razor, and slit it’s throat. Mortified I ran for my father screaming and crying. When he saw what the fuss was about he replied, with a laugh mind you, “Honey, that’s where we get bacon from”. For about three years I would not eat bacon. Today, well lets just say as long as I don’t see the food before what it looks like in the market I’m fine. Think I may cook a ham tonight.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 12:42:03

No bacon for three years?? Holy crammoli that’s a long time. I think all the comments in this post desensitized me to the pig. I’m ready for ham and pineapple on a big freakin’ platter. Let’s do this thing!!

Comment by Aaron
2009-07-07 12:28:03

Now I’m craving eggplant…and Italian Sausage

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 19:04:20

I think I made more people hungry than anything. :/

Comment by chris cole (@carlomarx)
2009-07-07 12:41:14

luke skywalker and joe pesci, an interesting intersection…

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 19:04:47

They’re one in the same, bro.

Comment by DW
2009-07-07 12:49:55

Hey Nick, there’s this guy in East B-town, that butchers lambs and cows. A co-worker knows him(buys his meat from him and helps out). We all went one time…WOW…pretty intense if you’re not used to that sort of thing. I mean from start to finish,leading the cow up to the concrete cutting field,saying a prayer and thanking God/Allah for the gift(the gentleman is from the Middle East)and then POW…one 22 bullet shot to the head.The cow drops and he quickly removes the cows head(as little suffering as possible for the animal!). Then we tie a rope and hoist it up. The hoofs come off next(just about everything on this animal is saved, except for the bladder bag!ha!). The skinning is done and then sections butchered. The whole process was pretty quick and clean actually.
Wanna go next time my friend buys a cow? I guess they could let you take pics too!ha! I took one of the cows head, but for some reason nobody wants to look at it…

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 12:56:52

Heck yeah I would go to that. Would make for an interesting news story. Besides, I’m hopefully going to do a whole series on Gross Animal Tales based on stories from an assistant vet… should be gruesome fun for people to read. You know how people like weird news. Did you mount that cow head on your van? Turn its eyes into blinkers.

Comment by devlzadvcat
2009-07-07 18:37:27

LMAO Better than the rear on the tail pipe.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 19:05:28

Ohh…. you would one-up me and Dave Wulfy.

Comment by Megan DiLullo
2009-07-07 13:15:07

Great piece, Nick. It’s good to be reading your work.

Always a pleasure,


Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-10 10:49:25

Snort snort right back at ya.

Comment by Doug Kessler
2009-07-07 14:16:14

Very nice story, Nick. My wife, Laurie read it to me on the way home from Morro Bay. For a few moments I was not on dreary Hwy 46 with the cruise control set on 58mph. Instead I was transported to a surreal world populated by gas thieves and a wedged pig. Quite nice diversion. Thanks,

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 19:06:24

Doug, this is the ultimate compliment. What writer wouldn’t want their work read aloud? And on such a dangerously boring stretch of road. I’m glad I could help pass the time.

Comment by nativiris
2009-07-07 17:55:55

Little pig, little pig… let me in!!!LOL!! …awww!! I feel bad for the little piggy… and for the record here in Puerto Rico some people fry rabbits and eat them as fried chicken… :( not me!!!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-07 19:09:08

Oh, I am so glad you don’t eat rabbit. I would have had to have cried for all the bunnies of the world. Which, I probably still should. Especially the chocolate ones… :/

Comment by sheree
2009-07-08 10:51:30

“We were idiot lovers lost somewhere past middle America where dirt roads and city asphalt collided in God’s kaleidoscope”.

Lines like this one stick in my head forever. You’re such a brilliant writer Nick.

My grandfather would always warn me the day before a slaughter was to take place so I would not have to hear the animal cry and scream knowing its death was near. I would go spend the night else where and come back after the bloody deed had been done. Animals know when the end of the road is near for them.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-08 18:47:31

I’m going to ask you in forever to see if you remember that line. Although, after forever I may forget to ask… :/

Comment by sheree
2009-07-10 17:40:51

Hehe, lets hope I’m not senile when you ask me if I remember my favourite line from this post.

P.S I may have found someone to claim as a Hero. Someone you’d least expect to make that list even by the firmest believers in Heros.

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Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-13 08:25:54

What? Who? I have to know…. Hmmm… Don’t tell me it’s Porky Pig. He’s been eaten!

Comment by sheree
2009-07-13 14:42:37

My Hero holds the title: The Greatest Drunk on Earth. I saw his life story last weekend and was very impressed with him as a person.

Congratulations on dethroning the king of TNB comments for a single post.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-13 15:00:09

Brad Listi could dethrone me in a heartbeat. He knows how to work 400+ comments on his regular site. He’s amazing. You have a link to this “Greatest Drunk” person? I gotta see this!

Comment by sheree
Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-20 07:06:02

A friend of mine at ABC23 in Bakersfield who is obsessed with comic books once told a delightful tale about how one of his greatest heroes was Andre the Giant. My friend was around junior high age and had a chance meeting with the aging, frail giant. They spoke, they laughed. And my friend was inspired and fondly remembers Andre the Giant heroically, as if he’s a real comic book superhero…

Comment by sheree
2009-07-20 11:52:50

He really was a frail giant with a huge heart. I was most impressed with the fact that he lived his life without complaint and that he never forgot where the boy inside the man came from.

Your friends encounter with the giant just confirmed the impression that I got of the man behind the giant. Thanks for sharing your friends story. I now have my very first Hero.

Cheers and Thanks!

Comment by Brin
2009-07-08 17:20:22

She’s right, that’s a helluva line.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-08 18:48:15

Thanks bro.

Comment by Nicholas
2009-07-09 05:46:50

I liked the ending. If I read it correctly, the guy is taking the pig back to his restaurant to be slaughtered and served up to hungry patrons. That’s literally the end–the end of the pig, the story, and the end we all face… Not to be slaughtered in an Italian restaurant (although you never know) but death… And nothing, not groovy feelings on a no-budget vacation, the odd elation of rescuing a pig, or love between a man and woman, is going to stop that… Nothing. So, while you can, enjoy groovy feelings, elation, love… Because tomorrow we’re all pork cutlets. I actually read somewhere that some cannibals call human meat “long pig” and that cooked homo sapien tastes like pork. Go figure. If that’s true, what does it say about Kosher and Halal dietary laws?

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-09 07:09:21

Oh man, and to think some cannibalism may be occurring on a regular basis to this day. In my book coming out “Random Obsessions: Trivia You Need To Know” I talk about what an old woman reveals out on cannibal islands to a friend of mine. You’d think an old lady just hanging out the wash wouldn’t reveal such terrible secrets…

Hey if I taste like pork that’s not half bad!

Comment by Jody Reale
2009-07-09 07:21:52

Nice! Makes me hungry. And reminds me: I’m almost out of gas.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-09 10:02:04

I know a good dive where you can get it real cheap.

Comment by chingpea
2009-07-09 07:25:35

I couldn’t resist… I had to look up and post an old quote since I can still picture in my head the man carrying the pig into the restaurant…

“But I will place this carefully fed pig
Within the crackling oven; and, I pray,
What nicer dish can e’er be given to man.”

- Aeschylus, ancient Greek poet

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-09 13:20:30

I usually think of “Lord of the Flies” when I think of this episode in my life. I mean, Jordan was there. He was six years old. I just didn’t make up a part of the story because I couldn’t remember if he was sitting in the car or standing.

I imagine he would have run into the restaurant and back out with the bloody pig head and taken over some small island if I had let him. OK, that was morbid. I wonder if he’s still reading the comments…

Comment by Matt Shaer
2009-07-09 14:03:37

Good story – and fantastic kicker. You’ve got a trace of Kerouac in there: “We stood like idiots under the crackle of distant storms. We were idiot lovers lost somewhere past middle America where dirt roads and city asphalt collided in God’s kaleidoscope.”

Keep ‘em coming, and I’ll keep reading.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-09 14:14:31

Hey Matt, thanks for including me in your news article on the failing of the Printed Blog. I appreciate the Kerouac reference too. He’ll always be one of my literary heroes.

Comment by Brin
2009-07-09 15:36:06

The printed blog went under?

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-10 10:46:37

Major tankage… A regular Queen Mary of print ideas. One of my past ideas was more like a tugboat in comparison…

Comment by Matildakay
2009-07-10 10:44:15

Reading this I feel the narrator reach through the computer screen, grab my little toe and yell… “and this little piggy went wee, wee, wee all the way home!” Please someone stop that pig from screaming in my head.

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-10 10:48:44

You can always look at the photo of the dead bird head I posted as a Twitpic today, Matildakay. I saw it while walking. The squeals could be replaced by squawks! :/

Comment by D Miller
2009-07-11 21:12:59

Having spent a few midsummer nights in the bustling metropolii of Toledo, Marion and Canton…the portrait of that summer night could have been Akron, or any one of these fine hamlets of ham. Pork is a contributor to gout, is rabbit? Hmmmm MLT (Mutton, lettuce & tomato. I have since gone back and read many other works from n. belardes. I ordered both Lords part 1 and preordered Oddities from

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-13 08:24:59

“Hamlets of ham” I love that line, Dean. I’m so happy to reconnect. I’m looking forward to lots more comedy… and thanks for ordering “Random Obsessions: Trivia You Need To Know.” I think of it as knowledge-comedy. Er, sort of… hahaha…

Comment by Zara Potts
2009-07-19 22:04:28

Nick, I know I have already commented….

Comment by Zara Potts
2009-07-19 22:05:05

But I saw your comments were at 297. I could not let this be.

Comment by Zara Potts
2009-07-19 22:05:35

I was compelled to make it an even 300 hundred. So I did. Congrats!

Comment by N.L. Belardes
2009-07-20 07:01:57

Somewhere up in magic pig Heaven there’s a little oinker staring down at all this madness and squealing in joy instead of pain for having his tale reached the 300-comment plateau…

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